The Sparse Distributed Memory (SDM) project is investigating the theory and applications of massively parallel computing architecture, called sparse distributed memory, that will support the storage and retrieval of sensory and motor patterns characteristic of autonomous systems. The immediate objectives of the project are centered in studies of the memory itself and in the use of the memory to solve problems in speech, vision, and robotics. Investigation of methods for encoding sensory data is an important part of the research. Examples of NASA missions that may benefit from this work are Space Station, planetary rovers, and solar exploration. Sparse distributed memory offers promising technology for systems that must learn through experience and be capable of adapting to new circumstances, and for operating any large complex system requiring automatic monitoring and control. Sparse distributed memory is a massively parallel architecture motivated by efforts to understand how the human brain works. Sparse distributed memory is an associative memory, able to retrieve information from cues that only partially match patterns stored in the memory. It is able to store long temporal sequences derived from the behavior of a complex system, such as progressive records of the system's sensory data and correlated records of the system's motor controls.